Now it has to be said that my peeps isn’t the best at household chores, not even second or third best. In fact if there was a wooden spoon award for not doing chores, he’d come in second.

   Part of peeps problem is space, well initially I suspect it was too much space, but latterly it’s too little space. The palace was in fact stuffed to the battlements with bits and pieces, with the emphasis on bits of things and pieces of others, (not) Mouses!

   I have only just pieced together the details of why this has come about, but from what I understand in the last 3 years my peep has lost 6 family members, including his mama peep and two feline companions of 16 years. In the year and a half since my arrival he has lost his father peep, but in another way. He has been taken with dementia, a horrid insidious disease that strips away peeps memories until deprived of even the knowledge to breath the body gives up. He is in a good hands and Gods hands and has been taken into a care home. That isn’t at all like a pound us cats end up in, more a sanctuary but without the cardboard boxes and nip toys.

With these events has come, like many a abandoned/surrendered cat will tell you, the loss of the family home, the loss of hope and comfort and joy. Unlike us cats however, peep has had time to think about these things, time to muse and fret about things, and has spent much time away from home helping sort matters, and on return, brought back many boxes. Boxes of memories, childhood toys, school projects, books, tools, nuts bolts screws nails and household cleaning stuff. So many boxes in fact that peep hired a van and drove a 400 miles round trip to bring them home. Now the pile of boxes started to arrive two years ago after uncle peep died (way before my time I know, but my cat carer, Bonnie, has told me so as she sat and surveyed the current clutter) and started to grow between the funerals and many trips away that have ensued. Just when one set of boxes started to find a home to rest, more would arrive, and so a cycle of ebbing and flowing of boxes and their contents began, as did the tears and memories and sleepless nights.

Being a cat predisposes me to having first dibs on all boxes that come in, no matter the size or shape, they are mine to be inspected, sat in or batted around. However these new boxes are just stacked up and full, or stacked up and empty and full, that is they are empty but full of other empty boxes. Does that make them full or empty? either way they just aren’t fun, in fact a real Wowser!

Each evening I come home from inspecting the estate, Meeting “N” Eating…sorry Meeting “N” Greeting! as it were, and there across the great hall would be a selection of boxes half spilled across the rug. Peep would be sat looking through the items, turning them round, reading or just sorting them into invisible or undefined piles. In fact, in one such gathering of boxes, peep brought back so many packets of screws, nails, nuts and bolts I dare say he could have built the Forth Bridge in Scotland. I suppose actually that would make it the Fifth Bridge, but what I’d like Miss Description to tell me is what happened to the First, Second and Third Bridges? purrs.

Among the other boxes of items that have arrived over the months have been a large quantity of cleaning products, old and new. I was somewhat surprised by this quantity as on arrival at the palace I’d inspected the laundry and kitchens and found the cupboards well stocked, not sure if that was from lack of use, but they were full. We have now however probably the broadest collection of laundry powders, liquids, tablets and every variation in between that any household could desire. Also, a copious selection of free sample dish washer tablets and fabric conditioners, scented water for steam irons, multiple bottles of bleach, air freshener, carpet spray (for carpets we soon wont have) metal polish and oven cleaners, even though to my knowledge, the kitchens don’t have an oven that needs cleaning, just one of those very small waving things.

   With things mounting up, quite literally, and my daily commute to the estate grounds getting ever longer and varied due to new box arrivals, the last straw came when peep returned home from one trip with a large selection of plastic bags full of his clothes. Clearly, I mused, peeps work had run out of packaging boxes from the envelopes and copier/printer parts that they use and he’d been recycling, though I bet they now have fully stocked stores cupboards, and best serviced copier/printers in the department.

Anyways, peep headed on upstairs to my chambers and unceremoniously stuffed them under my new bed and pulled the wool duvet over the edge to try and disguise there presence. Now call me a simple princess if you will, but given there’s only two of us, and we both know they are there, I’m fairly certain hiding it wont actually make it vanish, besides which he has to move them to get his lap pot out.

All in all things were getting a bit desperate and the household cleaning and dusting chores were being left behind somewhat….it was so bad I swear the spiders had given up abseiling off the ceiling to tease me, and have been walking down to work over the boxes. Mouses!

Now its not that peep doesn’t have the wherewithal and equipment to do things, no ma’am, we have a rather old, nay antique washing machine that fully services all peeps laundry and my bed sheets etc, and a vacuum for sucking up unwanted bits and pieces and also does a good job with hair peep sheds and the dust he brings in. No, I do think it’s just that he has now got caught in a loop of sorrow, loss and regret that have been fed and compounded by circumstance. It isn’t good to see, and I feel great sadness when day on day is consumed by grief, and I could do little to help…..or could I?

   There was nothing else for it but to take action! The whole thing about being princess is that one has to be prepared to take action if required, no matter how ugly the situation a princess has to do what princess does best, in my case I jump on things! Mouses (in particular)!

What I needed to do was create a bit of a stink, and to get peep fired up and wanting to clean and sort things in his boxes and the boxes of his life….Operation Cleaning was born!

I kicked things off a few weeks ago with the arrival down stairs of many legs….I cant enlarge on that as I had actually consumed the rest, so legs was all I had; well a princess has to have her little treats you know! I followed this up with a couple of live mice in the bath, and later the same evening one under the bath. Now the latter was a particular stroke of luck as said mouse found the only entry point behind the bath panel and prompted peep to get out of bed to find out what the growling an scratching was about. Having removed the panel said mouse was no where to be seen due to volumes of junk, though I was surprised when a duck came out. Duckies!

In the pursuit of a mouse that is disturbing his sleep my peep will stop at pretty much nothing. With a swiftness of a spider disappearing down a plughole he extracted every last bit of junk and vacuumed to boot. A small mouse trap was placed under the bath and the panel replaced. Not long after lights out there was a resounding “snap”, and peep apparently contented, fell asleep.

   Now I am good at my job, and I knew that the mouse was still there waiting to be chased, I could hear it, so I bided my time. Morning came, and in the still and quiet of the house there was scratching from behind the bath panel. Peep quietly got from his bed and stood beside the bathroom door and waited. I got to admit, like reading and interesting newspaper article over anothers shoulder, I couldn’t help but sit and watch…makings of great peep TV this I thought. After some minutes a brown mouse headed out from the bath and made towards the door.

Now I would like to say what happened next was text book mousemanship, alas as no such word exists, and probably for the good reason that what resulted can only be described as a Keystone Cops chase around the bathroom and the various items that had remained scattered thereabouts from the previous nights escapades. By the time things stopped, the score so far was Mouse- alive, Peep- exhausted, one banged head (on the toilet cistern) and multiple banged toes on a selection of unused wall tiles. Oh, the duck got flattened and has quacked his last, well at least until next bath time. Purrs

I must say that a most pleasing outcome of this was that the bathroom was tidied up and the tiles stowed out of hams way. Buoyed by this initial success, I started on the great hall and lounge area, and a select few mouses were released there in. Now I will apologise for paraphrasing that Robert Burns peep, but that quote really does need to be changed to “the best laid schemes of mice and cats, often go awry!”. Alas my grand scheme was to no avail as peep was now really just confining himself to his rooms, as much due to fatigue and stress as the lack of space and comfort. What I needed was some sort of grab you and shake you up eye catching wake up call…….what we needed was a………..

“Squealing!” in fact lots and lots of squealing. Well not me to be precise but the rat that I brought home the other evening! Well you should have seen the fun we had, round and around we went over boxes under piles of junk around book cases chairs and even over a sideboard. Rats!

Well I have never seen peep quite as agitated, which might have something to do with it being 3.30am, but in my defence what other time would I get a rat? Anyways I digress, and peep now armed with a short axe, which thankfully was closer to hand than the chainsaw that now has found a home in the Hall, proceeded to threaten the rat with de-tailing. Well it might have been beheading, but frankly given how bleary eyed he was, and not wearing his glasses, I doubt whether he could have managed either. Thankfully for both the rat and I, there were far too many boxes lying around to do more than shake the axe at it, but I did get some resounding words of support along the lines of “….come on my son!” Ahem, I do really need to have a chat with peeps later about the facts of life and the meaning of Princess which I rather hoped would be a clue, but hay ho, sexism is still rife in society. Mouses!

Now as is the way with chasing things, it can all go horribly quiet when the prey goes to ground, or in this case goes to clutter, a point that wasn’t lost on peep as I headed off to bed, minus the rat. In deed one could say at that juncture and to paraphrase the rolling stone (which may or may not have gathered some moss), peep ain’t got not ratisfaction! Now overtaken by a sudden urge to find the rat himself, he spent the next hour moving of boxes and junk and bits and pieces, but rat was no more visible than my pay rise, a cost of living rise was all I was after, and something for shoe boxes, us girls must look smart you know. purrs

   Anyways, next morning, peep not finding any indication of rat being an EX rat, he headed off to a farm shop for de-rodenting supplies.  Fast forward if you will some 2 hours and 50 miles, and peep returns laden with a huge electronic rat zapping device, which cost a few bucks and probably means my pay rise has been blown. Wowser!

After a wholesale move of furniture and boxes, some of which were emptied and recycled, I ended up with a sort of racetrack were nothing touched the walls and such piles of boxes as remained had clear access on all sides, and all ended up, one way or another, at the rat zapping gizmo. Conscious of an increasing stink in the palace, peep headed off to buy some air freshener, carpet spray and bleach for a bit of a clean up session. Now I know you may well, as well you might, be casting your mind back a few paragraphs and thinking “…didn’t he just bring a lot of these things home?” and you’d be right, but in peeps logic they were to be saved, for other things. Who knew what other things they may be, but in the cupboard and boxes they stayed!

Now I was resting on my bed, after a hard mornings work, when peeps came home, and I could here him checking the trap, moving some boxes around, and having a sniff at the wiff. Finding nothing but the smell, peep came upstairs to bathroom and washed his hands. Now I would at this point like to draw a you a picture of a rather smug princess sat on the bed watching a rather shocked peep jump quite literally in the air when, having flushed the water-bowl thing he found a rather wet and quite definitely EX rat therein!  All said and done, the final suicide jump was the rats itself, but don’t tell peep as I’m still pushing for that pay rise. Purrs

Well, when peep had fully recovered from the shock, and the rat made its way to the great recycling bin in the courtyard, there was the question of the smell. Now peep being one for decisive action…OK anyone who has read this blog will know that decisive and my peep don’t actually live in the same county, so we just need to take it as red, or in deed read that peep decided the smell would fade with the rats memory. Two days later and one stink later, peep decided that it was time for action, and he moved the boxes and cleaned the floor when the rat race course had been. Now fast forward another two days, and the stink now a big stink hadn’t gone away, so with greater resolve the rugs were moved outside and the whole floor cleared and cleaned, and low and behold he found a mole decaying behind some boxes, in fact the mole that I had brought in to be my big stink. Moles!

The palace is looking neater these days, not so many boxes or smells, just the occasional little stink from peep, his cooking that is. Peep has learnt a lot about management of space, both in his house and his heart. When faced with so much upset it is easy to grasp at any and everything that acts as a reminder of people and places, as a way to hang on to a loved one or gain extra time to resolve issues unresolved in life. Alas life is not as simple as that, and if we are not careful we can be consumed by chasing memories, regrets, forgiveness, and have nowhere to breath ourselves or to live our own lives. Truly the passing of a friend should allow us to celebrate that which is good, and to do this we should have compassion to all whilst they are alive.

I may seem harsh, callous or unkind to my peep, but sometimes we need help to see that what we have created is a monster that threatens to take away not only what we have here and now, but that we sought to preserve of those we have lost, and that it doesn’t actually therefore supply the comfort we seek from the memories we have. Finding what is important, what actually sums up an individual, the essence of a life is important but it is seldom as easy as collecting boxes. Strangely enough a solution for peep came from my cat carer Bonnie, who suggested having one small box into which peep put his memories, those corporeal items that helped but weren’t the sum of a persons true character. Memories are, my peep has discovered, fleeting things and can be taken from us at any time, come what may. And we should all remember that peeps and pets aren’t things to be put in boxes, catagorised stamped and forgotten. If we don’t in life take the time to actually find out more about a friend a person we work with, a family member we truly will never be able to begin to know them or start to understand them, and therefore in illness or in death we have little hope of comfort. Alas this is what many peeps want….but to me their lives must be shallow in deed.

Cleaning is a very therapeutic, and very satisfying, especially when one remembers to use the free samples that come your way in life……Mouses!